The most recent Saturday Nite Music Series concert at the Barge Canal Coffee Company was more like a paid concert than any other performance there this year. The band, Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, has a large following. There was a souvenir table covered with CDs and shirts, and every seat was quickly taken. Even those who made the attempt to arrive early found a packed house. From the vantage point of this writer, squeezed on the couch at the very back of the room, the view was that of shoes, jeans and backs of heads. In addition, the lights were turned off to “set the mood.” Luckily, this was music that did not need a visual perspective to be appreciated.
The band expressed having a special relationship with the Barge. In fact, it was the Barge’s owner’s birthday, and this is her favorite band. Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams said that being at the Barge is always a transcendent experience for them, and they hoped their performance would be “trippy.” They later described the Barge as very homey, like playing in one of their basements.
Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams consists of Joziah Longo on lead vocals, guitar and harmonica, Tink Lloyd on accordion, cello and flute, Sharkey McEwan on guitar, mandolin and backing vocals and Tony Zuzulo on percussives. They have a very unique sound, as evidenced by the plethora of instruments they use. Each song was decidedly different from the one before it, and there seemed to be a psychedelic element to all of the band’s music. The lead singer’s voice was deep, almost reminiscent of Johnny Cash, as well as a mixture of Tom Petty and Bono.
The first song they played, “Pushing Up Daisies,” comes from their new album, The Great Unravel. Longo explained that they thought of the song while they were driving. This song had rock elements, but was also mellow, as many of their songs were. The next song was “Clear Shadow,” a love song about big corporations. After that, the band mixed it up by playing a simple country song from their album Flapjacks from the Sky called “I Wish,” which they described as having nothing to do with anything. Longo then comically stated that they were making sure everyone got their money’s worth, an ironic remark since no one had paid to get in.
Next was the title track of Flapjacks from the Sky, the unique, creepy background sounds chilled to listeners. The following song, “Lighted Away,” was described as being a “sissy song.” It was the distinctive kind of song during which it felt like it would be appropriate to wave lighters in the air. Then, they performed “Tink, I Know It’s You” from their new album, explaining life as we all do: in terms of Disney movies. Longo explained that there are two sides to women, the Tinkerbell side and the Wendy side.
There was a relaxed atmosphere in the Barge, assisted by their humorous comments. After the last song before an intermission, Longo said that people who didn’t like them could sneak out during the break. And when describing the next song, the title track from The Great Unravel, he explained that it had a James Bond feel, but none of them knew why that had happened. Overall, it was an excellent night of inspiring music.